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Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't Quit!




I recently wrote about quitting, about simplifying our lives, about not trying to do everything we could be doing. We ought to let go of the expectations other people have for us and not let anyone guilt us into doing something that conflicts with our true purpose. We have to weed out a lot of extra things, even those that might be good, in order to have the time, energy and resources to do what's best: the thing God has actually called us to do.

But what about that true purpose? What if the thing He has called us to seems tiresome and fruitless? Shouldn't we be doing something else? Or at least something more? Should we just quit?

Writing can be a very frustrating and lonely business. It usually takes years to learn the craft enough to even begin to seriously submit work for publication. Even then, it's easy to wonder if we actually heard God's call.

Am I really supposed to be a writer? If I am, why didn't I final in that contest? Why don't I have an agent? Why haven't I sold my book? Why aren't my sales better? Why didn't I make the bestseller list? Why didn't my I win that award? Why don't I have a new contract?

What good am I doing sitting here alone making up stories nobody reads?

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

God puts a fire inside of us to do the job He designed us for. And He doesn't give us just the will to do it, He also gives us the ability to do it. If He designed us to write, He certainly made it possible for us to write. Of course, we have to learn the craft, study the markets, and make contacts in the industry. And, needless to say, we have to put our backsides in our chairs and actually do the work. But if He's called us to do something, we can rest assured we'll be able to do it – if we don't quit.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36

Ahhh . . . the P word. Patience. Not my favorite word. Never has been. But rest assured, whether it's writing or some other form of ministry, you'll need patience. Another word, in this instance, for resilience. We don't see the promise until after we've done the will of God, and that waiting takes patience. We don't see the promise until the right time comes, and that also takes patience. And faith. The world will knock you down every chance it gets, but God says, "Get up again. You can do it. I have put that ability in you – if you don't quit."

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

All of this applies to more than just writing. We all have a purpose in God's kingdom, and we're all uniquely gifted to fulfil that purpose. We may never know this side of heaven what our particular contribution to the Body of Christ has meant. Maybe only three people will read the book you spend twenty years writing. Perhaps it will be exactly what one of them needs to hear to turn his heart to Christ. Or maybe nobody will ever read that book but you, but you can't keep it from spilling out of you page after page. Maybe you are the one it is meant for.

I started writing my second book, By Love Redeemed, with a particular friend in mind. She was extremely sour about men, so I decided to write a story about a man who didn't disappoint, who was willing to give even his life for his beloved. As I wrote it, I realized more and more that it was becoming an allegory about Christ's love for His Bride, the church. More than that, I realized it was His love story to me.

Whether or not anyone else ever read it, even in its imperfection, it gave me a glimpse into His heart. No matter whether or not anyone else would react the same way, I was changed by the gift. I have no idea how many readers may have been touched by that or any of my stories. It's really not my business. None of us has the ability to judge the true fruits of our faithfulness. We have merely to be faithful and let Him take care of the rest. He will see the purpose He has for us is fulfilled – if we don't quit!

Do you have something you feel called to do and want to quit? Do you think you've wasted your time or misheard God? Are results or obedience more important in God's eyes?


DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, and Letters in the Attic, a contemporary mystery. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with four spoiled cats.







Girl ReadingImage: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



14 comments:

  1. Too true, DeAnna. It's sometimes hard to remember that we're not working our own agenda here.

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  2. One thing I've learned this past year is that I am a writer. If God put a fire in us to do the thing he equipped us for, then it's confirmed.

    When I write... well I won't go into it, but there's no other feeling like doing the thing you love to do, were wired to do. I'd like to think I was also born to travel the world without a care in the world but I think that's just wishful thinking.

    Thanks DeAnna!

    Congratulations on being named one of TEN MEDIEVAL AUTHORS TO WATCH!
    Includes Dina Sleiman as well. We're celebrating in Inktropolis this weekend~

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  3. For me as a writer it was very helpful when I got involved with American Christian Fiction Writers and was told that it takes 5 to 10 years to get published. It was actually very comforting and reassuring to me. I felt confident at that point that God wanted me both to write and to publish, and I didn't understand why it was taking so long. Now I know that's completely normal. My first book came out five years and a few months after I started seriously writing novels. I was on a good pace, and I just didn't know it.

    Now, when I meet first time authors at conferences, I share this with them. And so far, I haven't read a single book by anyone writing less than 3 or 4 years that was even halfway decent. You can sometimes see raw talent, but so much that still needs fixed. So I know that this is true. It really does take time to hone those skills.

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  4. Dina, I think I'm a slow learner.

    Great post, DeAnna! I know it's something I needed to hear.

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  5. Gina, I think you had another baby after you started writing. LOL.

    My best prescription for you would be to pick one project and really commit to it. I think you probably have too much going on.

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  6. Yeah, Robin, as an "I desperately need feedback" person, the possibility of never seeing the results is hard for me, but I guess that's part of the package.

    Thanks, Debra, that was a huge surprise to me! I'm turning in a manuscript today (I hope!) and then I'll be able to do some reading, including Dina's book. I've heard great things about it.

    Gina, anybody who has a baby gets a no-fault time extension. ;)

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  7. Am I the only one thinking it ironic that we have a post on keeping on right after a post on letting go? But both so true!

    And now I have an old Kenny Rogers song in my head...

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  8. Well, since I made everyone weepy with Monday's post, it's only fair that yesterday's and today's posts have me rummaging about for a tissue.
    This is good, DeAnna. Bless you!

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  9. Umm, I actually started writing the summer after I had child #3. Or maybe it was the summer right before he was born . . . hmm, I can't really remember.

    Since then I've had two more babies and did a cross-country move.

    Not that those are excuses. I figure if one deducts the months I didn't spend any time doing anything to learn the craft of writing, then I've only been writing for 5-6 years, not 11.

    Still, I think I'm a slow learner.

    Dina, you're right about picking up one project and focusing on it. I tried doing that with my Virginia story, only to stare blandly at the screen. So Tamela or Laurie said to work on something else. Thus, I did all the minor edits I needed to do on my medieval.

    Since my mind still wasn't in the writing groove, I spent this week working on blog stuff and puttign some focus back on Inkwell.

    Still no writing groove.

    So I decided I'd pull out my Victorian and add back in the sub-plot I took out when targeting it to Love Inspired. I'm actually enjoying editing it. :-)

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  10. DeAnna, thank you! I feel so validated because of your words. One thing you said really resonated with me that I've always believed to be true: we never know who our writing is going to touch. If God put it on our hearts to write, you can bet someone somewhere will be touched by it - even if we never sell it.

    There was something I felt very strongly called to do. I truly believed God pushed me in that direction. And I worked hard at it, and it was taking off in a wonderful direction. But then something bad happened in my family, and I couldn't work full time, do this other thing, and take care of that very serious family need. So I had to make the very hard decision to sell this little business I had started. At first I though, "why God, if you called me to this must I know quit? Did you really call me to it, or had I misunderstood?" It was years later that I realized the experience and internal growth I'd developed. All of that time wasn't wasted, and yes God really did call me to it.

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  11. I'm so glad you all got something out of this post. :)

    Suzie, I have a wonderful friend who always says, "God is a god of economy." She's been mentoring me for over 20 years. She wisely advised me to cut down my first book by half (I managed about 40%) and assured me that those cut words hadn't been wasted.

    Truly, they weren't. I was able to modify and use some of them in the sequels I wrote. But even if I hadn't, I learned so much from writing them.

    I firmly believe that God gives us little training exercises throughout life. To prepare us, to see if we're ready, to see if we'll be found faithful. All of it goes into making us who we are.

    And don't feel bad, Gina. It took me 11 1/2 years to write my first book. Really. And even then, I had to have a kick in the pants to make me actually submit it to a publisher. Sometimes our efforts aren't ready until a particular time, no matter how much we fret over them. God knows.

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  12. Thanks so much for the post, DeAnna. I've had all of these thoughts about my writing, too. In the past year, I went from having two mss out to nothing: I received a rejection and I realized, wow, I could just stop writing. Now. I have nothing out in the contest/editor/agent universe. And this is really, really hard and sometimes painful. Do I really want to keep doing this?

    But like Deb said, I get these stories in my head...and when I write, time passes so quickly. I love it.

    What God wants to do with my writing, He'll do. And I just have to trust Him and keep working until He tells me to stop.

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  13. I enjoyed your reflective post. You share some thoughts to chew on and ponder awhile. It's always good to know we don't live alone, but others face those similar issues.


    One thing I've really started paying attention to if my 'heart' goes out of a project or ministry, ie. it's lost its enthusiasm... then I need to STOP and ask why.

    Sometimes I'm burned out. Maybe I've overdone it and I just need a break, and with rest I'm eager to pick it up again;

    Sometimes I've taken on more than I can chew or more than He asked me to (creative minds often see all the possibilities and wanna do them too);

    Sometimes there's a shift in the season and He's actually calling me to come into something different -- maybe brand new different or just an enlarging or re-focusing of direction (so the zeal for the old is good... so it starts to move me).

    And, yes, sometimes, I need Him to re-ignite that flame for what I'm doing right now that once burned bright... to fan the flame with His vision of what He wants in this.


    So wishing you the BEST....

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  14. You know, Susanne, writing is just like anything worth doing. It costs us. But as David said, I don't want to offer the Lord anything that costs me nothing. And, really, it's a beautiful thing when you're doing the thing God has specifically crafted you to do. There's nothing like it and, though it's sometimes painful, nothing I would trade for it.

    Thanks for your comments, Brenda. And you're absolutely right. Sometimes what He calls us to is just a stepping stone to something different. Sometimes it was intended for only a certain period of time. Sometimes we just have to not be weary in well doing. We have to stay attuned to His leading to know.

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